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Bleaching Fabric

annie45 | Posted in General Discussion on

I was wondering if anyone has ever bleached fabric.  I know that to get the best results it is recommended to use 100% cotton.  I would like to bleach poly-cotton broadcloth.  I was thinking of making  a quilt top and I would like to marble (or such) the broadcloth so it would have some texture.  Is this doable and how would I do it?  Will it weaken the fabric?



  1. Susan -homedecsewing | | #1

    Bleach will weaken the fabric , there is a chemical that you can use to neutralize the bleach , perhaps someone here knows the name. But I would experiment on some test fabric first.

    1. kotacam | | #2

      You will need to stop the action of the bleach, or it will continue to bleach.  You may not continue to see any color changes, but over time the residual bleach will weaken and destroy the fabric. 

      To stop the action of the bleach, you can do one of two things.  Rinse the bleached fabric in a solution of vinegar and water.  I use 1/4c. vinegar to a gallon of water.  I know there are other ratios and I'm sure others will be willing to give theirs.  There are many ways that work!  The other method is use a product like Anti-Chlor.  You can get this via a company called Prochemical.  Check their website, they have the directions for using it there, but the product won't come with the directions.  Go to http://www.prochemical.com

      I hope that helps - dyeing and discharging fabrics can be a lot of fun, and you'll end up with a beautiful, unique work of art.

      Good luck,


    2. annie45 | | #4

      Thanks for the ideas.  If you were to use bleach on 100% cotton, or any fabric, I guess the bleach would have to be neutilized.  I have seen tv programs that talk about bleaching fabric but I have never heard them talking about nuetilizing the bleach.  I guess you should research ideas further when you see them on tv.

  2. User avater
    Becky-book | | #3

    I did a reverse tie-dye T-shirt for my daughter (then a pre-teen) We took a dark purple T, bound it up with rubber bands, and soaked for a short while in bleach water, then washed it. it turned out kind of marble-ized.  How long you soak will determine how much color comes out AND how much damage is done to the fabric.  I splattered bleach on a pair of teal green sweat pants (first spot was an accident, the rest were to camouflage the damage) they looked "cool" for a few years. The kids called them Mom's galaxy pants (think stars and comets) but eventually the bleach spots became holes, probably because they got washed often.  A quilt won't get the same treatment.

    Try some experimental pieces, you might like the effect; poly cotton isn't too expensive to risk destruction!


  3. marijke | | #5

    You can bleach lots of fabrics.  Natural fibers are probably best.   I don't know how bleach interacts with polyester.  I know when I tried to die a poly/cotton mix the color was not as deep as a natural fiber would have been.

    I have successfully bleached cotton and linen.  I did use bleach-stop, purchased from Dharma trading, see http://www.dharmatrading.com/html/eng/620804-AA.shtml

    There are some other products for removing color.  I haven't used those, but check out the information.  They are intended to "safely remove color" so I assume they don't have the same fiber-weakening effects as bleach.



    Hope this helps,


  4. jkimes | | #6

    Hi there,

    I've used bleach to do reverse stenciling on black linen. I used SoftScrub with bleach which gives better control and isn't as strong as straight bleach. You can control the amount of bleaching by the length of time you leave it on. I didn't use any stop-bleach, but I did rinse thoroughly after each step, and washed in the machine when I was done.

    Here's a link to a picture. The dress is in the 3rd row on the left: http://www.jkimes-studio.com/Photos.html

    Have fun!

    Juliette in Texas

    1. solosmocker | | #7

      Bleach is not a friend to polyester. You will achieve greater success and less frustration if you stick to natural fibers. It is very important to neutralize the bleaching action as stated. I use vinegar as well, usually a cup to a gallon. That ration is only because I never saw anything specific on this topic. Dicharge dying, or the more appropriate term for bleaching, is a really fun thing. Be aware that there is no telling what you will come up with. For example, blue and yellow make green. If you discharge dye green, you may end up with a lot of blue or a lot of yellow and this will definitely vary from fabric to fabric. It can even vary on the same fabric but different bolt. I loved working with black for discharge dying because you never knew what color would come out. Remember from grammar school, black is amde of all colors. Have fun and let us know how it turns out.

    2. zuwena | | #10

      Lovely work. Zuwena

      1. jkimes | | #11

        Thank you!

  5. joansewz | | #8

    Annie, I have also used the Comet gel product and stenciling very successfully on a med. dark all linen.  I have also used that product to rubber stamp.  If using a stamp, one without much detail works the best.


    1. Josefly | | #9

      This is intriguing to me. When stamping with a bleach gel, do you leave the bleach on until you can see that you've achieved as much lightening as you want, or is the effect more intense than it looks - I mean does it seem much lighter after washing and drying?

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